June 11, 2013

Midsummer Weekend 2013

Photo by Marie Andersson, Skansen
(EDIT: info for 2013... click here for updated info. Basically the same but a few date and link changes) The biggest holiday in the Swedish calendar is just a little over a week away: Midsummer (June 21st to 23rd)! It rivals Christmas as a holiday to spend with friends and family, filled with age-old traditions. On this weekend, Swedes flee the cities and head to their country homes to celebrate in the outdoors. Unfortunately, every year Stockholm is filled with tourists who are unaware of this holiday and are confused why the city resembles a ghost town. While it has become better in recent years (as Swedes become more capitalistic in their mind-set), many restaurants and shops are still closed and even a few museums. But not to worrry, there is still plenty of things to do & see and ways to experience traditional Swedish midsummer. Here is a little guide to the weekend:

Museums-

  • Skansen (zoo, open air cultural museum)- open every day, all weekend.
  • Vasa Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • ABBA the Museum- open every day, all weekend.
  • Royal Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Drottningholm Palace- open every day, all weekend.
  • Fotografiska (photography museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Moderna (modern art museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nordiska (nordic culture museum)- closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Nobel (Alfred Nobel & the Nobel prizes)- Closed on Friday, open on Saturday & Sunday.
  • Royal Armoury- closed on Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
  • Historiska (history museum)- closed on Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
  • Medieval Museum- closed Friday & Saturday, open on Sunday.
If you are travelling with children, it is good to know that both the amusement park Gröna Lund and Astrid Lindgren's world Junibacken are open all weekend!

Restaurants-

Here is where you can get into a little trouble. Many restaurants are closed for the whole weekend, while others will be closed at least on Friday. Most hotel restaurants are open to the general public (like the Rival Bistro) all weekend. There are also a few other restaurants that are open all weekend... but, if you are staying at the Rival Hotel, contact me as soon as possible for help booking a table, as they will probably fill up and last minute reservations might be tough!

Shopping-

Also a little tough. Many smaller boutiques will be closed for the whole weekend. Even large shopping centers, like Mood and Sturegallerian, will close on both Friday and Saturday. The two largest department stores, NK and Åhlens City, will close early on Friday (10am to 2pm) and stay closed on Saturday. Officially, it is only Saturday which is a bank holiday... but Friday is about as close as you can come "unofficially", so expect many pharmacies, banks and liquor stores to be closed that day as well.

Sightseeing-

Large sightseeing companies like Strömma run as normal with bus, boat and combination tours available all weekend. Smaller, independant sightseeing companies may be closed. Public transportation runs as normal, though on a more limited "holiday" schedule, all weekend.

Experience Midsummer-

After all of this negativity, you may be wondering "but where do we experience the Midsummer celebrations?". Well, the best place to see how Swedes traditionally celebrate this holiday is at Skansen. They have a full program all weekend long! While most Swedes do leave the city, the few that are left will celebrate with picnics and games in the different parks throughout the city. So, when in doubt, just head outdoors to celebrate. If you are staying at the Rival Hotel and need further information... contact me directly at the hotel!
Photo by Yanan Li, Stockholm Visitors Board

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